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Bloomington Will Spend Up To $2M To Improve Water Testing

Bloomington Public Works Department sign
Eric Stock
Bloomington will soon be going 'under the hood' to examine its water monitoring systems.

Bloomington plans to spend up to $2 million over the next five years to upgrade its aging water monitoring systems.
The city council has approved a maintenance contract with SCADAware of Normal to examine its water testing infrastructure.

Jim Karch
Credit WGLT file photo
Bloomington Public Works Director Jim Karch projects the maintenance contract will come in under $2 million because it's partly depended on how much data city staff can review.

Public Works Director Jim Karch said the system measures things like water pressure and quality.

“The importance of clean water is critical. The information to distribute that water is just as critical,” Karch told the council. “If you don’t know pressures, water quality at the different point of the water distribution system, you can’t provide an equitable system across the distribution system.”

Karch said the city's current water monitoring system dates back to the 1990s, while its software system can no longer get technical support. City officials says improvements to the city’s SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system improvements budgeted last year were never done.

City council member Jamie Mathy said the city needs to know how good its water infrastructure is before making repairs above ground.

“I know that it’s top of mind for all of us that we need to fix the infrastructure underneath the street before we put new pavement on top of the street, because the last thing we want to do is dig anything up we just repaved,” Mathy said.

The contract with SCADAware of Normal is for $2 million over five years, but city officials say they don't know how much repairs might be needed and how much they cost.

“Right now, we don’t actually know 100% the scope of work,” Mathy said. “I own an old house. Once you open up the walls to fix one thing you never know what you are going to find inside of those walls.”

Karch projects the cost will come in lower than $2 million, because public works staff won’t be able to process all of the data the monitoring system can produce.

The contract allows the city to opt out after each year.

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Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.